They say her salon is the Mecca to the elite and fashionable people. Yes, Ambika Pillai. She is a well-known name in the world of hair & beauty and she started her career from humble beginnings as a hair stylist, and then went on to become a renowned make-up artist. She has laid down the ground rules for the cosmetics industry and this has made her an indispensable member of the fashion circuit.
Ambika comes from an affluent Keralite family. She had the world at her feet and at the age of 16 married her very charming 17 year old fiancée. They moved to Calcutta and to a very very minimal lifestyle. After 5 years of marriage and not a single day of intimacy with her husband, he agreed to a clinical version of making a baby and she finally had her child Kavi. She walked out of her marriage 2 years later.
Ambika learnt the ropes of hair and skincare from Shanaz Hussain and Blossom Kocchar after she saw an advertisement in the paper. She toiled her way up. She started out working with the famous transvestite stylist Sylvie. When that failed, her former husband also took back the child with the regular “you are not fit enough”!
Then came a second marriage to a womanizer, drunkard and gambler that went for a toss…. Her attempt at suicide also failed when she was rescued before any complications could arise due to her slashing her wrists. She picked up the pieces again and this time her efforts brought forth fruit. She got her daughter back and also her life.
From nothing to almost 200 stylings a day, she has worked on everyone from the Royal Al-Sabah family of Kuwait to Anna Kournikova to Aishwarya Rai to the countless Punjabis in Delhi. Today she owns a few salons in India and her own line of make-up and beauty accessories called Lipsticks, Lip glosses, Mascara, Nail Enamel, Liquid Eye Liners, Lip Pencils, Eye Pencils, Makeup Brushes and Brush Kit. She also conducts professional beauty courses and I think here is something you make like, she also conducts a 2 day course called ‘Learn to do your own makeup’. Anyone interested?
Let me leave you with a few make-up tips from Ambika herself:
- Soft, smokey eyes accentuated by pale, glossy lips. “Besides the essential charcoal-grey, one can also use shades of midnight-blue, mehndi (henna)-green and even fuchsia to smoke out the eyes
- Pile on the glitter. Use eye-shadows in black, grey, blue or aquamarine and top with some sparkle
- Use a shimmery blush in any warm shade like amber or soft pink
- If you’re going strong on the eyes, ease up on the lips, using any soft skin tone shade, finished with generous dabs of gloss. Alternatively, play up the lips in rich burgundy or raisin if you’re going light on the eyes
- Winter sees lots of black in our wardrobes and red lips go very well with any black outfit
- The real experimentation should be for the evenings. Curl your lashes and apply heavy mascara on them. Use a dark eye-shadow and smoke out the kohl. Apply a little bit of shimmer on your eyelids, just above the eyeballs so that your eyes look nice when you move them
- Don’t follow these rainbow trends blindly. See what works for you and not the airbrushed model pouting from the magazine cover
Ambika is quite well known for her bridal makeup
Not only is this the story of a famous make-up artist but a story of disappointments and courage and triumph against all odds. Now every time you see her salon or her products you will know the story behind the name…
Isn’t Ambika Pillai inspiring? Have you tried any of her products or visited her salon?
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